Ask a Plumber!

This week we got the chance to interview Sam Greenblatt, a plumber from Paterson, NJ. We focused on one of the most common plumbing problems: a flooded basement. Hopefully, his answers will be helpful- and maybe save you some money along the way.

Q: What’s your advice on dealing with a basement flood?

A: Make sure the area is safe before you go near the water. With a flood, the big danger is electrocution. Don’t touch anything until you’re sure that there are no electrical wires in the water, and that it’s not deep enough to cover any electrical outlets. Also – and this may sound silly, but it’s important – make sure that the water isn’t so deep that you can fall in and drown. I was in a restaurant recently where the water came halfway up the wall. If you slip on the stairs and fall, you are in serious danger.

A lot of this is common sense, but in a tense situation you might forget, or get flustered…I like to remind people. When you see water in the basement you switch to emergency mode, but you have to stop for a moment to make sure you’re safe.

Q: Okay. So, once the area is safe…

A: Once you’re sure it’s safe, listen for actively flowing water. If you hear anything, you should immediately turn off the water meter. A lot of my customers don’t know what that looks like, which can make things pretty stressful. I usually try and tie a rag around the handle, something like that, so they know for the future.

Q: And then what?

A: Unless you’re an experienced DIYer, you probably need to call a professional.

Q: Darn!

A: laughs 

Q: What if there’s not running water?

A: In that case, the flood is usually from one of three places. The first is groundwater seeping in from the outside. There might also be something above the leaky area, like an upstairs shower. You can usually figure that out by stationing one person near the flood and sending another upstairs to try turning things on- the kitchen sink, the shower, anything above the leak that produces water. You’ll spot the problem pretty quickly if that’s the case.

Q: The third?

A: Something overflowed. Now, if the water is coming from your laundry sink, then the problem is likely either a clogged pipe or a sewer backflow.

Q: In which case you should…

A: Call me! laughs.

Q: What about clean up? Any advice there?

A: It helps if you can shop-vac the water, or sweep it down the sump pump. I also advise customers with frequent flooding to invest in a dehumidifier. A fan also works in a pinch. Basically, you want to dry the area as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Otherwise you’re in danger of growing mold.

Q: Any final basement or homecare tips?

A: It’s good practice to walk through your basement once a week, once a month, etc. Just look around! A small drip in the corner or something corroded can often be easily fixed, and is a lot cheaper than a big flood. The phrase I use for customers is, ‘you’re better off fixing something on your schedule than on its schedule.’ Take care of problems when you see them- you’ll save a lot of money.

Hope you enjoyed Sam’s tips! If you have any more questions for Sam, leave them in the comments section- we’ll try and get them answered for you in the not-too-distant future.

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